FORMER Ulster Unionist election candidate Paula Bradshaw has joined the Alliance Party.
Ms Bradshaw stood as the Unionist and Conservative candidate in South Belfast in this year's general election, but polled less than 6,000 votes and failed to unseat the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell.
The mother-of-two from Jordanstown, a former student of the University of Ulster, is an 'Independent Member' of Newtownabbey District Policing Partnership.
"I am very pleased to welcome Paula into the Alliance Party. It's great that exciting politicians like her realise that Alliance is the only genuine party of a shared future," said party leader David Ford.
"I am very excited about starting this new chapter with what has proved to be the only party truly committed to mainstream, non-sectarian politics in Northern Ireland," Ms Bradshaw commented.
"I look forward to joining David Ford and his team at this exciting time in the party's history, and to pursuing the type of politics which is about the people we are elected to serve - and which is about the whole of Northern Ireland, not just certain sections of it."
The leader of the Alliance group on Newtownabbey Council, Tom Campbell, added: "Paula Bradshaw is the sort of bright and articulate candidate that would be an asset to any political party. I am delighted for that reason that she has joined Alliance."
Ms Bradshaw's partner, Ian Parsley, left the Alliance Party last year, having been its defeated European election candidate in 2009.
He stood as a Conservative-UUP candidate in this year's general election, but again failed to get elected